Tag Archives: rye

Widow Jane Spirits & Distillery

I’ve been a fan of Widow Jane for a few years now, but I recently had the chance to taste a bunch more of their offerings at their distillery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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It also doubles as the Cacao Prieto chocolate factory, so don’t go assuming that I popped the wrong photo into this post by mistake.

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Anyway, we tasted ten different bottles of booze. Five (left) were heirloom whiskies, which I liked a LOT, so I will talk about them first.

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The Wapsie Valley bottle had a corn-forward flavor profile that was smooth yet strong. If you like a pure corn bourbon whiskey, then this should be your go-to selection, if not the blue corn version that I will get to later…

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Bloody Butcher is a corn varietal that is red in color, and that is the namesake of the next bottle. This had a bit more character in the flavor to me, slightly peppery in fact.

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The corn, as you can see below, is a nice vibrant blood red color:

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The next two whiskies are “High Rye,” which means that they have a bit more rye in the mash than the previous two. This first one is the rye’d version of the Wapsie Valley from above. I liked this one better, because I think the addition of rye adds more interesting flavors and spices to the booze.

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Same goes for the High Rye version of the Bloody Butcher: a much nicer drink. In fact this was one of my favorites of the day.

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The last one we tried, and my other favorite, was the Hopi blue corn whiskey, of which I forgot to take a stand-alone photo. While this (and the other heirloom bottles) are pricey for only 375ml ($135-$145), the flavors are intense and rich, and worth the money in my opinion. This blue corn bottle offers some smoke that you might get from an islay single malt scotch, but rounded out nicely with the sweetness of corn. Absolutely amazing.

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As it turns out, my wife had a shot of the Hopi bottle so I’m including that here:

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For the regular tasting flight, we first started with a pair of rye mash, American oak aged whiskies. This first one was crisp and clean.

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The second one here gets hit with some apple wood slats during the last stage of aging, which give it a nice sweetness and refreshing quality in the final taste. You can even smell the apple a bit.

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This next bottle is the one you probably see most commonly in liquor stores and bars in the area, and it is the one that I was familiar with before this tasting. The water comes from a limestone mine in New York, and it is aged for ten years in new American oak barrels.

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For some additional info on this bottle, I pulled the following from Caskers.com:

“To build a great city, you start with the toughest foundation known. The greatest structures in New York City, from the gargantuan caissons of the Brooklyn Bridge to the 27,000 ton pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building itself, are held fast and strong by natural cement made from limestone from quarries located in Rosendale, New York.

The last Rosendale limestone mine closed down in 1970 and its owner, A.J. Snyder, who was as tough as the limestone he quarried, passed away shortly thereafter. His widow, Jane, was beloved in the community for her kindness and pure spirit, and so when Snyder passed, the Rosendale Limestone Mine became known as the Widow Jane Mine.

To make a great whiskey, you start with the finest water available. Following on the heels of the tremendously successful Widow Jane 5 , 7 and 8 Year Old Kentucky Bourbons, Widow Jane 10 Year Old Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon uses water from the same limestone quarries in Rosendale that were mined tocreate New York’s greatest architectural achievements. The sweet water, along with hand-selected ten-year old Kentucky bourbon, is imported to Brooklyn where Daniel Prieto Preston, inventor, aerospace engineer and founder of Cacao Prieto (a chocolate maker and distillery!), creates Widow Jane Bourbon. Preston brings Widow Jane 10 Year Old Bourbon to proof by hand using water from the Widow Jane Mine and then fills and labels each single-barrel bottle by hand. Bold and complex, the whiskey benefits from its Kentucky heritage, but it’s the smooth, mineral-rich New York water that gives the whiskey its unique flavor profile.

Widow Jane Whiskey is a true New York City whiskey, evocative both of one of mankind’s greatest achievements — New York City’s skyline — and Brooklyn’s artisanal, craft spirits movement. Both urban and urbane, Widow Jane Whiskey is New York’s very own — a signature whiskey of the world’s most magnificent and maddening metropolis.

Each bottle is hand-numbered — pick up one of these rare treasures today.”

Okay, so this next bottle is actually a chocolate flavored rum. This shit was so tasty. I would drink this on the rocks or direct from the freezer, or even mixed / blended with some vanilla ice cream for a boozy dessert.

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And for you coffee lovers, this Colombian coffee flavored liqueur was also included in the tasting. I’m not sure if it has any caffeine, but it tasted exactly like espresso, but with a boozy kick.

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Get out here for a tasting. I definitely recommend all of the heirloom whiskies. They were all really great.

WIDOW JANE DISTILLERY
CACAO PRIETO
214 Conover St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Carnegie Deli

There are few eating holes as iconic as Carnegie Deli. This joint is known around the world for serving up Jewish style deli sandwiches that are piled high with mountains of meat. I hadn’t been here since around 2000, so it was great to finally go back and really sink my teeth into some classic NYC shit.

My buddy and I split the Woody Allen combo, which is about a pound each of pastrami and corned beef on rye bread, but without the statutory rape. We ordered to go so we didn’t get nailed with the $5 share charge (and a tip) if you eat there.

This place still delivers high level quality like I remember. The meat is juicy and tender, sliced thin but not dried out, and piled high as fuck.

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One sandwich can easily feed two, but I have to tell you – I was wishing that I had my own sandwich as I got down to my last few bites. So much meat, but I wanted more!

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Now that I live nearby, I’ll be picking up sandwiches a lot more often. This place is totally worth the hype, and there are really only three places that still operate in this classic Jewish Deli fashion now: Katz, 2nd Avenue Deli, and Carnegie Deli. Get here. Even if you’ve gone many times. It still delivers a powerful punch of flavor.

CARNEGIE DELI
854 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Scotch & Whiskey

This page is dedicated to the greatest liquor around: whiskey. Aside from a dirty, dry, gin martini, a glass of scotch and/or whiskey is probably the greatest thing to happen to the male sex since the discovery of female tits, ass and vagina. Read and learn all about these great accompaniments to dinner.

You may sometimes see it spelled “whisky,” or generically (and often erroneously) referred to as “scotch.” You might also see scotch lumped in with things like bourbon or rye. Shit, you’ll even see single malts confused with blends. But words have meanings, my friends, and this is where you will learn them, and where you will find my opinions about which are the best.

Terminology

Whiskey/Whisky: Whisky is alcohol that’s been distilled from fermented grain mash. All whiskey must be distilled at a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 94.8% ABV. The spelling is generally different based on which country it is from. A nice rule of thumb is that countries that do not have an E in their name do not spell whisky with an E. Examples: Scotland/Japan = Whisky; America/Ireland = Whiskey

Where Brooklyn at???
Where Brooklyn at???

Grain Whisky: Whisky made, at least in part, from grains other than malted barley.

Malt Whisky: Whisky made primarily from malted barley.

Irish Whiskey: Yup, you guessed it… whiskey made in Ireland. It must be distilled to an ABV of less than 94.8%. Additional rules are that it must be aged three or more years in wooden barrels, and if two or more distillates are used the whiskey must be labeled as a “blend.”

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Scotch: The mash must be barley, it must be from Scotland, and it must be aged in oak barrels for three or more years at an ABV of less than 94.8%. Pretty simple.

Single Malt: Essentially this just means that the whisky is a product of a single distillery.  A single-malt Laphroaig may contain whisky from many barrels produced at their distillery, but it must contain whisky produced only at Laphroaig.

Blended Malt: Also known as vatted malts, these are a blend of single malts from two or more distilleries.

Single Grain: Very misleading. It means barley and one or more other cereal grains were used, produced only at a single distillery (similar to single malt).

Blended Grain: Blend of single grains from two or more distilleries.

Blended Scotch Whisky: A mix of both single malt whisky and single grain whisky, sourced from several different distilleries.

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Single Barrel: This is a whisky from a single barrel, unmixed with other barrels. Very rare.

Bourbon: Grain mix must be at least 51% corn, and bourbons are from the USA and aged in new charred oak barrels. Straight bourbon is a bourbon that has aged two or more years. While most bourbon is made in Kentucky, it is not a requirement. Bourbon can be no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels.

Tennessee Whiskey: Straight bourbon made in Tennessee and filtered through charcoal.

Rye: In Canada, there must be some rye in the mash. In the USA, however, there must be at least 51% rye in the mash, and they must be aged in new charred oak barrels. Like bourbon, straight rye is a rye that has aged two or more years. Rye can be no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels.

Personal Preferences

I have two distinct likes when it comes to scotch. I enjoy the extremes of the spectrum: creamy and sweet like butterscotch, and super medicinal and peaty.

Let’s start with the peaty ones: Laphroaig 10 is like baseball glove leather, and I mean that in the best way possible. Very smokey and definitely an acquired taste. I absolutely love it.

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That, Ardbeg (both the 10 year and the Corryvreckan) and Lagavulin are my favorite of the smokey, peaty varieties.

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I have a great book called “Michael Jacksons Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch” that I found to be very useful (Not Jacko – some other dude). It also rates them out of 100. Lagavulin 16 (their most common) gets like 96/100. That’s pretty fucking amazing for a bottle that typically costs $75-$100 (depending on how hard you are being raped in cities). Tasting anything higher ranked is going to cost you a shitload of scratch. In fact, I don’t think I’ve tasted anything rated higher than Lagavulin. Get it. It’s fucking totally mint.

For the smoother types: I like Macallan 18, Glenlivet 21, Balvenie Double Wood 12, and Glenmorangie 18.

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That Glenlivet 21 is as clean as a freshly shaved snatch too, assuming there was a shower taken afterwards, and no STDs or weird rashes… One Christmas Eve I drank nearly half a bottle of GL21 and had no hangover whatsoever the next morning. Happy Birthday Jesus!!! The smoothies I listed here are all a bit more expensive (though Balvenie is not) but well worth it.

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The Macallan and Glen Livet 12 years are nice to start with if you’d like to try something smooth as well, but I prefer the Balvenie Double Wood by far at that price point. They call it “double wood” because it has two hard cocks. No… because it is aged for most years in oak casks, but then finished in sherry casks, so it has a unique flavor.

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Scotch Flavor Map

I came across this pretty cool chart thing a while back, and kept it handy for quick reference. This gives you a little visual of the flavor profiles people often discuss with scotch:

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From http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/01/03/all-hail-scottish-whisky-flavour-map

Regions of Scotch Production

There are essentially four main regions of scotch production in Scotland, and each region has flavors that are often typically associated with their scotches.

Speyside: fruity and delicate. The valley of the river Spey is often associated with flavors like vanilla, honey, apples and pears.

Lowlands: fresh, light. These malts are fragrant, floral, taste of cereal and are light in color.

Highlands: smooth and floral. In the west, you have some maritime influence in the flavor, and in the central highlands you get some honey and heather.

Islay/Skye Islands: peaty and briny. These robust malts are laden with the medicinal / iodine aromas of the sea.

Drinking Tips

One thing I like to do: drink the first half of my glass neat, then throw one or two ice cubes in and allow the flavors to change. It’s like having two different glasses of scotch in one, because the ice and water allow the scotch to open up (kind of like wine), and different aromas and flavors can be more easily detected.

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The ice sphere is so much cooler than the ice cube. The ice cube is such a square.
The ice sphere is so much cooler than the ice cube. The ice cube is such a square.

Another cool thing I learned at a tasting: splash a little scotch on the palm of your hand and rub your hands together like Mr. Miyagi. Then smell your hands. All sorts of aromas are unleashed. You’ll smell florals, vanillas, nuts, wood, etc. Very cool.

An interesting trick: suck air in through your teeth as you have some scotch in your mouth and on your tongue. The break-up and aeration of the liquid will release aromas and flavors that you might have otherwise missed.

Most important: take your time. I sometimes see scotch amateurs order a nice scotch and then shoot it fast. What a waste! Don’t be that fucking guy.

Organize a tasting: maximize your exposure to various scotches. If you’re anything like me, you have a bunch of buddies who love to drink. Chances are, a good crew of them dig scotch. Call them up and organize a scotch tasting. Everyone can bring their stash and you’ll have a really big selection to work with. Check out this selection we amassed last Christmas. Fuck yeah! I think we had 30 bottles total when a last minute arrival showed up, and it was something he brought back from China. Sweet!

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A final note: scotch isn’t for everyone. Some people just don’t like this shit. Tastes are subjective, but tastes do change over time. I always hated tequila, for instance. But I respect the spirit and understand how tons of variety exists in the product lines. In fact I’ve recently started to come around to tequila through my enjoyment of aged mezcal. Maybe you’ll come around to scotch if your first impression is bad. Keep trying. You never know – your taste buds might have adjusted and now you might love scotch if you tried some good ones.

Other Resources

For a more in-depth dive into terminology, check out THIS SITE. Start at A, and work your way through Z. Do it. Don’t be a bitch.

Www.Maltmadness.com is a great resource, as is www.Malts.com. Whisky Magazine (out of the UK) is fantastic as well, also online at www.WhiskyMag.com.

You should also check out my post on the Whisky Advent Calendar. Needless to say that was a great December – a December to remember for sure.

day 24: master of malt 50 yr speyside (3rd edition)